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the nag

16 days before the first day of school.

L: hi

L: just curious

L: has ben started his summer reading yet?

A: um

A: we ordered the book yesterday

A: does that count as ‘started’?

L: phew

L: not so much reading going on over here either

L: but apparently my incessant nagging isn’t going unnoticed

A: ha

L: charlie may have mentioned to me that my nagging isn’t working

L: he actually said - it’s having the opposite effect of what’s intended

L: those were his exact words

A: whoa

A: so u stopped nagging?

L: nah


This got us thinking. Nagging. We do it a lot. We nag them to get their summer reading done. We nag them to put their laundry away. We nag them to clean their rooms. We nag them to walk the dogs. We nag them to put their dishes in the dishwasher. My god, we do a lot of nagging. It’s exhausting, really.


What’s wrong with us? Why can’t we stop?


Maybe it’s a bad habit.

Maybe it’s because we’re trying to get our kids to do what’s best for themselves.

Maybe it’s because we are trying to teach them how to become something resembling responsible, competent human beings.


So whilst we carry on with good intentions, we continue to nag, knowing it doesn’t work. Knowing that all we’re doing is teaching them to resist our advice and simply think we’re big fat nags. But our friend Kristen found a way out.


You gotta meet Kristen.

Kristen has 4 kids - 2 boys and 2 girls. At the time of this story, they ranged from ages 12 to 19.


After years of nagging with no results, one of said four children left his wet towel on the carpeted floor. And then, ladies and gentlemen, Kristen cracked. (Random thought about cracking - you never know what’s going to make you crack. Sometimes it’s a big thing and sometimes it’s a little thing. But it’s always unexpected. And you’re never prepared.)


So that night, as Kristen lay in bed, she pondered - what if I don’t do what I always have done? What if I don’t yell at them to put the laundry away? What if I don’t yell at them to take the blue recycling bins down to the end of the driveway? What if I just stopped yelling and don’t do a thing? What would that look like?


So the next morning, she made a decision. She committed to doing something different.


Kristen went on strike.


Day 1 of the strike. The kids come piling into the kitchen, starving and asking what’s for dinner. That’s when they find their mother sitting at the kitchen table by herself with a cloth napkin on her lap and a piece of her grandmother’s china filled with jumbo shrimp cocktail. She’s dipping them into extra spicy cocktail sauce. Not only because that’s delicious but because ‘they’ don’t like it extra spicy so she never makes it that way. No cooking. No mess. Perfection. As she pours herself a second glass of wine, they stare at her bewildered. Where’s dinner? What are you doing? What's happening? Oh, I’m on strike. Until further notice. There happens to be plenty of mac & cheese in the pantry.

Day 2. Strike, schmike. Kids aren’t impressed. To prove their indifference, they order in Domino’s for dinner and oooh and ahhh about the delicious cheesy bread.

Day 3. Laundry piles up. Garbages overflow. Food dwindles.

Day 4. At 5:45pm, girls ask Kristen, who’s lounging on the porch leafing through a new Vanity Fair, to take them to their 6pm dance rehearsal. Um, did you forget I’m on strike? But mom, we’ll never make it. We can’t miss rehearsal, the recital is coming up. She sips her ice cold lemonade and shrugs, not my problem.

Day 5. The house is filthy. Oh, they have 3 large, shedding dogs.

Day 6. There are no clean clothes anywhere because duh.

Day 7. There’s not even mac & cheese left in the pantry.

Day 8. The girls fold first. They start the laundry and beg her to call off the strike.

Day 9. The boys cave next. They run to the grocery store and clean their rooms and beg her to call off the strike.

Day 10. Yes, this continued for 10 glorious days (her exact words, not ours). The strike officially ended when the kids presented her with their homemade cake, decorated with the words - MOM, WE NEED YOU. All caps.


Kristen remembers the strike fondly (again her words, not ours). Says it was her most proud parenting moment. Says it felt good to not yell at the top of her lungs or repeat the same thing over and over until she sounded like the broken record she was. The strike has had good residual value. Natural consequences always seem to.


Funny thing is, we both remember Kristen’s story from years ago.

In vivid detail.

Because it’s that impressive.

While seemingly simple.

Seemingly.

To be honest, we’re kinda jealous that Kristen pulled off a strike and set the gold standard, while we can barely eek our way into bronze.


Several nights ago.

L: hi

L: so guess what just happened over here?

L: charlie’s school supplies are still sitting in the hallway

L: all of them

L: all of the binders

L: and the pens and pencils

L: even the adorable sharpie rainbow collection

L: but the best part?

L: i didn’t say a word

L: i didn’t ask if he was going to organize his backpack

L: i didn’t ask if he was going to take the supplies out of the plastic bags

L: nothing

L: u proud of me?

A: well

A: kinda

A: i mean, it’s no strike

A: but happy to give u a baby atta girl

A: thing is

A: i’m pretty sure i shouldn’t be the one handing out atta girls, even baby ones

A: bc i may have actually asked someone if he was going to organize his desk

A: and i may have asked 4 times

A: ok 6 times



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